Monday, July 20, 2015

Ice Dyeing Experiment

For the past two years, Elizabeth has been following a Facebook group called "Addicted to Tie Dying" - note the misspelling of dyeing in case you want to try it out.  The members there do some snow and ice dyeing and have been discussing the merits of tying their project dry after having soaked it in soda ash versus wet and wrung, right out of the soda ash soak.  As well, they have been discussing placing the dye on top of the ice or under the ice.

Elizabeth thought it would be interesting to do her own experiment with both options.  However, being excited to begin, on the dry piece she totally forgot about the soda ash soak and dry part!

The wet experiment was done correctly having been soda ask soaked.  She used a hemostat to twirl her fabric into rosettes and bound them loosely with a rubber band.
Let’s call them 3 and 4 across the top row from the left to the right and 1 and 2 on the bottom row. 
3 and 4 were wound dry and 1 and 2 were wound into rosettes when damp from the soda ash soak.  She wanted to see if dyeing dry or wet gave better results.  Rosettes 2 and 4 had the dye powder sprinkled directly on the fabric and the ice over the powder where 1 and 3 had the ice on top of the fabric and the dye powder on top of the ice. 
Unfortunately, she used some bad experiment practices and will need to try again.  She messed up by not soaking her dry samples in soda ash so it would be difficult to say if tying while wet or dry and then dyeing made any differences.  She would need to repeat this to get true results and have all four pieces treated with the soda ash.

She used the very traditional design of splitting a swirl into thirds and using the three primaries, yellow, blue and red in each pie shaped wedge of the circle.  It was difficult to really know where the circle was once covered with ice so she did a lot of guessing (something else that isn’t good practice in an experiment).  She also decided to allow the pieces to sit in the dye liquid (called muck) while they did their 24 hour ”batch” time.   
Mixing the primaries pretty much makes brown and so some of the pieces ended up with some nice brown striping radiating from the middle.  It is always amazing that a rolled piece of fabric with pie shaped dyed wedges makes such a pretty spiral and that sitting in muck (or adding black dye to the top of the circle gives radiating lines.  As far as dye under or over the ice, here are pictures of the results so that you can judge for yourself. 
They hang 1,3 and 2,4 on the clothesline.   It seems that dye under the ice gives a more crisp and clean look to the finished product where dye over the ice gives a more muted and crystal like effect.  Yellow dye is notorious for not “striking” - the term used to mean that it bonds to the fabric and you see the color.  You can see that in number 4 there is no yellow showing even though it was applied.
More experimentation is required, perhaps limiting the number of variables to start.  Stay tuned for more quilt camp experimentation.

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